Archives for

business

Best rugged Android tablets money can buy

Update: check out our 2017 edition of best rugged tablet list and our best rugged smartphone list

From luxury to commodity to absolute necessity, being able to connect to the web while on the go and carrying your work with you far and wide have taken new meanings in recent years, as conventional PCs lost steam and ultraportable alternatives rapidly gained traction.

Best Rugged Android Tablet

Tablet construction site

And whereas most smartphone and tablet owners nowadays still fall in the light to moderate user categories in regards to their productivity and range of tasks completed, there are those who take gadgets very seriously, depending on them not to entertain and amuse, but put bread on the table.

These power users are not the same so-called power users that Apple or Samsung usually address with fancy new iPhone, iPad or Galaxy launches. They are real-life, modern John McClanes, who rock Casio Commandos, Kyocera Torques or Cat B15s as “daily drivers”, not because they make them feel manlier, but because a bendable 6 Plus or GNote 4 couldn’t get a through a workday without cracking under pressure.

They’re not heroes, they just like things done a certain way. They work in tough outdoor conditions but never complain. Even in their spare time, they love hanging out in the wild, with nature’s strengths and shortcomings.

Panasonic Toughpad

They’re not afraid of a splash of water, dust, dirt, extreme temperatures, altitudes or things like radiation or vibration. Some can even take a bullet without blinking. Each and every one of them however need survival tools, and a good starting point are the rugged Android smartphones we recommended a while back.

Next step? A solid yet compact and portable, secure, smooth and powerful ruggedized Android tablet. Yes, we know, Windows has the upper hand for the most part in this grossly overlooked niche. But if you look hard enough, here are some of the best Google-powered options you’ll be able to find:

Fujitsu Stylistic M532 – available at $358 on Amazon

Just so we don’t scare you right off the bat, we’ve decided to start the countdown of the best rugged Android tabs with possibly the world’s cheapest. Obviously, the M532 is thus not the most robust ultraportable money can buy.

On the bright side, it’s fairly thin and light, at 8.6 mm and 560 grams respectively. And given the wasp waist and low price, the 10 incher is no featherweight, withstanding extreme conditions such as high altitude, shocks, vibrations and minimal or maximum temperatures, courtesy of MIL-STD-810G certification.

Fujitsu Stylistic M532

The Stylistic can also remain whole after being dropped a few times, though it’s best to protect it from violent contacts with hard surfaces. Above all, the M532 is a business-oriented slab, offering a host of security add-ons and data protection methods, and ergo being a better fit for an enterprise environment rather than a construction site or war zone.

Last but not least, the thing runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, packs quad-core power, 1 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage.

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1

Just so you know, the Android “Terminators” are arranged in no particular order, as they’re simply too different to rank. Clearly, pitting the Toughpad FZ-A1 against the Stylistic M532 would have been comparing apple to oranges.

Toughpad FZ-A1

That said, deciding between the two is pretty easy. Fujitsu’s option is better for enterprise, this thing “dares to go where no tablet has gone before”. Meaning you definitely want to put on a protection helmet while on duty as, say, a contractor, but this baby can handle any and all environments by itself.

Yes, it’s that tough. It even comes with an extended 3-year warranty to show you how durable it is. And Panasonic may not list bullet resistance as one of the slate’s features, but honestly, this is your safest best for a war comrade.

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1 back

It’s massive, at 2.1 pounds, it can handle repeated drops from dizziness-inducing heights, and it’s of course MIL-STD-810G certified. The carcass is encased in magnesium alloy, the corner guards are made of elastomer, and you get all kinds of hardware encryption methods, the highest degree of password security, root and anti-virus protection.

Panasonic Toughpad JT-B1 – available at $1,486 on Amazon

Does $1,500 feel a little too rich for your blood? We get where you’re coming from, and don’t blame you, but believe it or not, the JT-B1 is even stronger than the other Panasonic Toughpad. Aside from complying with all military standards for everything from extreme temperatures to rain and freeze, this compact little 7 incher sports a sealed “all-weather design”.

Toughpad JT-B1

And the raised bezel increases the LCD impact protection. Translation: you can drop the JT-B1 on its face over and over again, and it won’t crack. The craziest thing is the device’s weight, 1.2 pounds, although the 8-hour battery life is a close second.

Getac Z710 – $1,495

This is the last uber-expensive tab we’re going to list, we promise. And perhaps we’d never have recommended it in the first place, especially as it doesn’t come from a big-name manufacturer, but the Z710 breathes strength through its every pore. Maybe more than the Toughpad rivals.

What we like the most at Getac’s design approach is they knew from the get-go their target audience couldn’t care less about style and elegance. There are no aesthetical bells and whistles here, just a 7-inch tablet small enough to hold in one hand and “built to survive”.

Getac Z710

Six-foot drops, extreme temps, solar radiation, you name it. Oh, and the screen is perfectly readable in the most difficult lighting conditions, plus glove-friendly. A barcode scanner is inbuilt for obvious reasons, and 3G connectivity is not an option, it’s standard.

Guaranteed to last you at least three years of constant abuses, the Z710 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and packs 1 GB RAM, as well as 16 GB internal storage.

Xplore RangerX – $1,391

1,400 bucks is still a lot of money, but not only is the RangerX a little cheaper than our previous two recommendations, it’s also larger, at 10 inches, and thus more productive. Needless to stress this can also take a loooot of abuse, specifically repeated drops on every edge, corner, plus directly on its face, including on concrete from heights of up to 4 feet.

rangerx

Then you have all the extreme conditions that don’t affect the usability of the big guy in the least, which include -4° F to 140° F temperatures, blowing rain, 95% humidity, functional shock, 15,000 feet altitudes, fluid contamination and solar radiation.

As for security options and neat add-ons and features, Xplore Tech equipped this beast with Gigabit Ethernet, CAC and Smart Card Readers, a Kensington lock slot and optional Verizon 4G LTE among others. Just beware of the vague, fishy Amazon listing and maybe go over to Xplore directly for a quote depending on your exact needs.

Motorola ET1 – $1,246

Bet you didn’t know this thing still existed, huh? Well, it has amazingly survived Motorola’s rise and fall, its retreat from the tablet market and successive buyouts from Google and Lenovo. Of course, it’s no longer widely available, but Amazon sells it directly, and the price isn’t so bad… all things considered.

Keep in mind that Moto put Jelly Bean on the 7 incher a while back, so the software at least should be silky smooth. The hardware, not so much, as that dual-core TI OMAP 4 processor is horribly outdated. Not quite as indestructible as some of the above contenders, the ET1 remains a top choice for enterprise users, with its manageability, security and decent durability.

Motorola ET1

The spec sheet includes a bar code scanner, phenomenal 8 MP rear camera, 1 GB RAM and protection for 4-feet drops, thermal shock, humidity, etc., etc.

Before wrapping up, we’d like to remind you the Android universe is an extremely volatile one, so keep your eyes out for alternatives yet to come. Like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Active. Not recommended for the most extreme wild conditions, the $700 KitKat-loaded 8 incher will nevertheless fight water and dust, plus remain operational after dropped from 4-feet high… in theory. It’s your call now, so choose wisely and stay safe.

Five reasons why we need BlackBerry on the Android team

The rumor is not new. In some shape or form, we’ve been expecting BlackBerry to reach to the dark Google side for salvation for several years now. It seems to be the Canadians’ only shot at a hardware business revival of sorts, and by extension, the company’s survival as a whole.

BlackBerry Android

Granted, John Chen could always try to stop the ship from sinking by throwing the archaic QWERTY keyboard phones overboard and saving merely the semi-profitable software department. But that would obviously imply cutting thousands of jobs and settling for subsistence instead of aspiring to greatness.

Not an option yet, at least not until they experiment a little with an outside OS, probably to mutually beneficial effects. Come on, Android geeks, admit it. There may be something of value for us all in a BB recruitment on Big G’s team. Multiple advantages, actually, which we’d like to detail as follows:

Physical keyboards

Remnants of a time long past, these non-detachable “accessories” have to make a comeback in the Android landscape. They just have to. Businessmen, perennially on-the-run students or simply folks who live through typing need a user experience and interaction on-screen keyboards won’t ever be able to provide.

BlackBerry Classic

Sorry, SwiftKey and Swype, no matter how versatile and productive you get, you’re not the “real” deal. Meanwhile, the BlackBerry Classic is, and the awkwardly designed Passport comes pretty close. Now shut your eyes, imagine for a moment BB joins forces with Samsung and they devise a high-end QWERTY/touch hybrid powered by a lightly forked Android iteration.

Something to borrow the robustness and professionalism of BlackBerries, and at least part of the Galaxy S-series glitz. Sounds too good to be true? Unfortunately, we’re dreaming here and grasping at straws, really, when likely the best QWERTY Android around is the two year-old Jelly Bean-running LG Enact.

Security

Waterloo’s CEO may have wanted to exhibit tact when invoking the reason his outfit can’t dive into shark-infested Android waters yet, but he sure struck a nerve among malware-concerned mobile enthusiasts.

Android security holes

Let’s not beat it around the bush, stock Android has a security problem. And so far, Samsung, LG, Sony or HTC’s proprietary skins haven’t managed to deal with it in a universally satisfactory manner. Could BlackBerry perhaps reduce the typical risks associated with Google-powered devices?

Definitely, but of course, they need to modify code, customize features and even remove certain Google services, replacing them with their own. Do we want that? Not all of us, yet some would love, love, love the alternative.

Competition

Speaking of alternatives, wouldn’t it also be nice to find a balance between Eastern and Western tech forces? Clearly, gadget reliability doesn’t depend on geography, but stubborn, patriotic, slightly prejudiced North Americans will always show reservations to Chinese brands, favoring local companies… if they get the choice.

Android BlackBerry

If they don’t, they’ll go the Apple route and we obviously don’t want that. Call us haters, but Cupertino needs to lose a few market share points to once and for all align prices with real iPhone value. So, we’d like to see BB regain its lost touch, especially since they know how it feels at the peak of the totem pole and we trust they won’t allow themselves to tumble a second time.

Software diversification

Unpopular opinion – Android skins aren’t inherently bad or counterproductive. Samsung is this close to making TouchWiz not only prettier than its vanilla kin, but also smoother, faster and easier to master for novice users. Don’t shoot the messenger!

TouchWiz vs Stock Android

Now, HTC’s Sense UI is all that’s wrong with third-party “optimization”, and Amazon’s Fire OS is a fiasco of closed-mindedness, rival envy and ego. Narrowly behind Samsung, we’d probably list LG as the designer of a convenient, minimally intrusive interface that’s greatly evolved over the years.

If BlackBerry decides to follow the path of Android adoption and alteration, you have to figure they’ll tweak a number of things, particularly in the privacy department, but as long as they offer full access to Google Play, we’re game.

BlackBerry Passport

There’s also the question of updates, handled by the Canadians themselves when it comes to BlackBerry OS (duh), but likely contingent on multiple factors if our dream scenario pans out. Ideally, Google would understand the perks of collaborating with a security specialist of this magnitude, and who knows, maybe they’ll unite forces to make stock Android the best it can be.

A touch of safety renovation never killed an open OS, did it?

Great brands live forever

Consider this – if Nokia were to return next year (which is more than likely, by the by) with a super-sturdy handheld sporting a phenomenal camera and cutting-edge internals all in all, would you be interested? Intrigued, at least?

Of course you would, regardless of their lengthy struggles, Microsoft dumping and the eternity passed from their last hit. It’s the same with BlackBerry, whose esteemed name will stick to people’s brains until long after the Prague debuts, no matter if it strikes gold or flops as hard as the Z10.

BlackBerry building logo

This isn’t an ephemeral champ we’re talking about, with its 15 minutes of fame over and done. It’s an enterprise destined for enduring success going through a lousy phase. It’d be a shame for this to be the end, and it’d be too bad if Google and Samsung didn’t realize the comeback potential.

Go on, give them a hand for the sake of the entire industry, future developments, breakthroughs and progress. They’ll be always in your debt, even when if back on top.

Best business-friendly Android tablets money can buy in December 2014

Once upon a time deemed harmless toys incapable of challenging the conventional laptop’s productivity, tablets have grown in mainstream popularity of late not only because they’re smaller and, often, easier to master than computers.

tablets-and-business

They’re also slowly but steadily moving up the enterprise ranks, becoming safe, functional and, most of all, cheap enough to use in business environments. Besides, tablets allow professionals and entrepreneurs to take their work with them wherever, whenever, with increased comfort.

Juggling between one’s relaxation and entertainment needs, and office endeavors is a walk in the park, and a slew of optional accessories and add-ons like keyboard docks or stylus pens often bring tabs perfectly on-par with larger PCs as far as productivity goes. Sometimes, higher.

Business tablets

Granted, many tablets, especially in the Android ecosystem, remain focused on light tasks, gaming, or multimedia playing. Which is why you may need a little guidance into picking the pads that mean business the most. Here are seven top options available today, each one fitting a different enterprise profile:

Google/HTC Nexus 9 – starting at $400 on Amazon

At first glance, there’s nothing businessy about the latest entry in the “pure Google” Nexus franchise. Quite on the contrary, if we’re talking strictly from a software standpoint, as Big G is never keen on adding software optimizations or security “enhancements” in the mix.

What makes the N9 a sensible choice for corporations and corporation workers is the dedicated keyboard folio, up for grabs on Amazon at $88. Sure, most tabs support third-party docking stations and keyboard cases. Many of which might be larger and thus more productive than Nexus 9’s accessory.

Nexus 9

But this one is specifically made for Google’s 8.9 incher, and you’re guaranteed perfect compatibility and a smooth user experience close to the one offered by a traditional laptop. All for less than $500, in a package weighing under 800 grams in total. Nice!

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 – $549 in 32 GB configuration

It’s perhaps needless to point out why a stylus could come in handy for a graphic artist, or just a scribbler always attending meetings and always in need of easy note-taking tools. Well, the Note Pro 12.2 is one of the easiest and best all-around, along with its beautiful, greatly prolific S Pen.

Galaxy Note Pro with keyboard

A fantastic multi-tasker and a bona fide powerhouse, the Note Pro 12.2 offers all the screen real estate you’ll need to create and tweak spreadsheets in comfort, and of course, an Office Suite built with your enterprise requirements in mind.

Plus, Knox security, a wireless printing-dedicated app and a bundled keyboard if you’re willing to cough up $720 and up. Not exactly a bargain, but it could be money well spent.

Asus Transformer Pad TF103C – $299 (keyboard included)

Looking for a bargain tablet/laptop hybrid, and don’t mind cutting a few performance and productivity corners? This aging Transformer Pad is a smart buy no matter how you look at it, even if it’s smaller than the Note Pro and doesn’t come with a stylus in tow.

Asus Transformer Pad

Not quite a speed champion, the TF103C can last for a full day’s work on a single charge, and the bundled keyboard is particularly impressive, touting a decently sized trackpad and as such replicating to the letter a notebook’s typing experience.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition – $449 and up on Amazon

Something for everybody. That’s our motto today, and the 10.1-inch Note aims to meet the desires of those who see the Note Pro as too uncomfortable to lug around, and the Transformer Pad as underwhelming in the performance department.

Galaxy Note 10.1 2014

Not too pricey, and not too cheap, if you know what we mean, this baby comes with Polaris Office pre-installed, S Pen support on hand, the same exquisite multitasking abilities as the 12.2 incher and an optional case/stand. No keyboard love? Afraid not, although there are numerous external choices.

This $26 Newstyle, for instance. Or this “premium” $47 ProCase. This $37 Supernight? Your call.

EVGA Tegra Note 7 – up for grabs at $159

If your employer is not the generous kind, and you’re simply looking for an inexpensive, light, sleek travel companion instead of a top-of-the-line laptop replacement, the Tegra Note 7 is perhaps the safest bet.

EVGA Tegra Note

It ain’t extremely productive, obviously, but it’s decent for note-taking, courtesy of the intuitive Nvidia Direct Stylus experience, and will let you answer a few urgent e-mails on the move. Oh, and don’t tell your boss man, but the Tegra Note 7 is a bitching gaming device. Almost like an oversized Shield console.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet – $530 on Amazon

Pencil pushers (no offense) make up merely a tiny portion of the target audience addressed by business tablets. A solid business tab should handle itself in the wild outdoor too, and in need, fight off water dips and dust contact.

Enter the waterproof, dirtproof Xperia Z2 Tablet. Perhaps not the ideal gadget to visit a construction site without a helmet on, the 10.1 incher is incredibly easy to carry, tipping the scales at 439 grams and measuring 6.4 mm thick.

Xperia Z2 Tablet

Now, elegance may not be the prime concern of enterprise slate users, but if you’re to be available for your business partners and execs at all times, at least do it in style. Speaking of all-times availability, the 10.1-inch Z2 can be had with just Wi-Fi connectivity, or Verizon LTE speeds. The latter, high-speed connected around the clock, costs $500 with two-year contracts, and $600 outright.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active – $563 on Amazon

Meet the Terminator of business-friendly tablets. This thing can take a beating without flinching, and needs no helmet in its construction travels. The Tab Active is the protection helmet, its rugged exterior ensuring security against four-foot drops.

Also, against accidental water immersions up to 30 minutes, and interaction with dust. Basically a Tab 4 8.0 squeezed into a protective case, the Tab Active is “enterprise-ready, productivity-ready and solutions-ready.”

Galaxy-Tab-Active

How so? With Knox security, NFC, C-Pen support, a bundle of special apps to crank up productivity, various data encryption methods and, last but not least, a daylight-readable LCD screen.

Do we have an enterprise champion? Maybe, although we’d like to stress again each business user is different, and has a very particular set of skills in need of polishing and support. All considered, is anyone thinking of purchasing one of the above? Which one and why? Sound off in the comments section below.

BYOD: Can Android overtake iOS in the workplace? [Infographic]

Samsung Knox Notifications

Samsung Knox Notifications

Do you use mobile devices in the workplace? Two-thirds of businesses today encourage employees to use their own devices for communication or collaboration in the workplace, according to an infographic shared exclusively by cloud services provider Egnyte with The Droid Guy. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have increasingly penetrated into the workplace, but the dynamic of choosing which particular platform has changed over the years. While IT departments used to have a big say in the decision-making process, today bring your own device (BYOD) setups prevail.

Remember how BlackBerry ruled in the business setting just five years ago? Now, business users have a wider choice of devices or platforms, at least. Take for instance internet giant Yahoo, which now gives users a choice of iPhone, Android or or Windows Phone devices — anything but BlackBerry, actually!

BYOD encourages employees to either acquire their own choice of device and simply connect with the applications and security protocols that a company requires. As cloud-based services like Google for Enterprise, Google Drive and Microsoft Office 365 become popular tools for productivity, workers can quickly shift to a work-anywhere setting, where work can be done both at their office desk and remotely (at home or at a cafe, for instance).

However, there is a concern with regard to standardization and security protocols, according to research. While a majority of companies encourage BYOD, not all have established safeguards and policies that ensure the security and integrity of data. Therefore, proprietary information, like financial data, intellectual property and the like, can be vulnerable if an employee loses his or her device, or if the transmission channels are not secure enough.

The benefits of BYOD outweigh the risks, especially with readily-available enterprise-grade security services available for businesses to use. Cloud services save businesses $2 billion annually, after all. What’s important is for employees to actually use services that are secure enough to protect sensitive information. Surprisingly, even as only 15 percent of businesses approve consumer-grade cloud services, a majority of employees still use these to communicate and exchange information and data.

Android playing catch-up

Interestingly, while Android smartphones account for almost 80 percent of devices worldwide, the platform is still playing a catch-up game to iOS in terms of enterprise usage. As of 2012, iOS devices were 2.4 times as common in the business setting, at least for exchanging files and data. The big concern here seems to lie in the fragmentation issue that Android devices still suffer from. Because iOS offers a more or less homogenized environment for application developers and IT departments to work with, it is easier to control, in terms of security and privacy protocols.

Android, however, has started making leaps and bounds when it comes to enterprise-grade security. Take the Samsung SAFE and KNOX initiatives, for example, which offer application security, platform security and centralized device management. In a recent Frost & Sullivan survey, Android overtaking iOS seems to be plausible, depending on how successful enterprise-oriented programs are. “41 percent of organisations expect iOS to remain the dominant platform in the next 12 to 18 months. On the other hand, 32 percent of organisations expect the growing popularity of Android OS will make it the preferred platform in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Infographic credit: Bring your own device / Egnyte

Should app developers build for Android first?

Android Army

Android is, to date, the most popular mobile platform, both in numbers and in growth. And with development outfits starting to focus on a mobile-first approach, one might wonder whether this also translates to an Android-first approach in developing applications.

And yet even if Android had an install base of hundreds of millions, the fact is that some developers still choose to launch initially on the competing platform — namely iOS — first, before eventually porting their applications over to Android. What could be the reason for this paradox in Android app development?

Steve Cheney, in a blog post, postulates why the Android first approach is a myth, and he goes on to give a few major points as to why developers would build their applications for iOS as the primary platform, due to constraints in the Android platform at the engineering and financing levels.

“Android-first” faces structural and financial barriers which are unlikely to be overcome. iOS will remain the primary platform that startups develop for regardless of how much more quickly Android grows share.

We can break it down to a few major concerns.

Return on investment

With application development mainly a business concern, developers would, of course, want to focus on how well they can recoup the investment and effort they put into the product they are building. Even as Andriod has a nominally bigger install base, analysts have determined that iOS is still the more profitable platform.

A recent study by Nanigans, for instance, has determined that the return on investment (RoI) from iOS users on average is about 179 times higher than the RoI from the average Android user. And this is just from ads displayed on the mobile Facebook platform. Extend this into premium apps, in-app purchases and other means of revenue, iOS would trump Android in sheer earning potential.

Now the other side of the equation is cost. It’s understood that iOS gets developers potentially more return per user, on average. But development on Android might also be more expensive. Cheney even gives an example that a development team needs two Android developers for every iOS developer. The issue of fragmentation is also raised: “This is due to a multitude of reasons: less sophisticated tools, generally more cumbersome APIs, fewer exposed advanced features, enormous QA issues brought on by fragmentation, etc.”

Institutional support

Meanwhile, yet another big consideration here is support from institutional investors, an influence especially important for venture-backed technology startups that need to prove their mettle with the ones who hold the purse strings. In this regard, the typical series A round funding might not be enough capital to include the costs of developing on two platforms. Given this, founders tend to focus on the primary platform, in order to be able to raise enough resources for a succeeding round of financing, during which they will work on catering to the secondary platform.

Granted, startups and development teams should not always have to kowtow to the whims of their investors. But when business matters are at stake, then whoever holds the money would usually want to have the last say in things.

Market preference and response

On top of development costs and considerations, another reason for developers to flock to iOS is the availability of tools and big data to support development. This metric, of course, follows the consideration that investors would want to put in more money into development teams that can prove their profitability.

Extending this into one’s potential market, a developer’s audience would also display differences, depending on geography and demographic. In emerging markets, for example, users are expected to have lower budgets for devices and apps. In established markets, one would expect users to have a more mature preference, bigger budgets for mobile data, and a higher likelihood of spending more on making in-app purchases.

Again, the so-called Android engagement paradox comes into play here. While Android continues to gain user count and market share, user engagement — including ad-related actions, usage and activity — do not necessarily increase.

Steve argues that for many technology firms, iOS is the go-to platform when building applications. “Startups simply cannot afford to bypass iOS and go Android out of the gate.”

Should this be a big concern for the Android community?

Business strategy: How mobile mature is your enterprise?

Mobile Business

With the rapid rise of mobile technologies and cloud-based computing, mobile devices are now being lauded as the next frontier in both enterprise and consumer computing needs. Businesses from a wide array of industries are scrambling to establish a mobile presence, although many are still building their apps and services by mimicking the functionality and features of their desktop-based services, which makes for a poor user experience (UX) both for the organization and its clients.

Forrester Research, an independent research firm that provides marketing advice to businesses, earlier released its 2013 report on mobile maturity, focusing on strategies, development, and future services of companies. According to the report (premium download), companies that have better commitment in their mobile undertakings are better at formulating strategies and making e-business decisions than those that are still in the early stages. This applies to small and medium businesses and even large enterprises.

Methodology

Forrester Research shows that mobile companies that are ahead of the curve are the ones that showcase an intrinsic understanding of mobile trends. On the other end of the spectrum are those who are at the “early stages” and in the middle-ground are companies at the “working on it” phases of mobile maturity.

Forrester actually quantified mobile maturity into three brackets:

  • Companies with a mobile strategy for less than a year;
  • Companies with a mobile strategy for one to two years; and,
  • Companies with a mobile strategy for two years or more.

Mobile companies were asked different questions about their marketing strategies, current challenges, and future plans. The result of Forrester Research’s surveys was as expected: mature e-business firms show traits that are effective and crucial in the progress of mobile services compared to their fledgling counterparts.

Findings

In gist, the study determined these salient points:

  • Mobile success is brought about by commitment from the company’s senior management.
  • Mobile-mature organizations take a strategic approach in their execution.
  • Mobile-mature organizations collaborate better.
  • Experienced organizations offer a broad spectrum of mobile services.
  • However, e-businesses do not take a strategic approach to their vendor relationships.

Higher-level commitment leads to earlier maturity

The first factor that Forrester looked into is the level of mobile engagement within a company, in particular whether its executives in senior leadership positions are deeply involved in the firm’s mobile strategy. Some highlights:

  1. Among e-business professionals who have had a mobile strategy for more than two years, 91 percent believe that their senior leadership understood the value of mobile, and 88 percent believe that their organization understood the weight of what mobile could bring to the success of their company.
  2. As a business grows, those responsible for Internet and mobile-related aspects of the business also rise among the ranks. Among the companies surveyed, 52 percent of those considered mature have decision-makers in vice presidential roles or above. These have a say in the companies’ mobile strategies.
  3. Companies that have more mature mobile-business strategies also allocate more funding to their mobile endeavors. Twenty-nine percent of e-business professionals who are at the early stages allocated at least $1 million for mobile; while 49 percent of mature e-business professionals spend at least $5 million. Thus, the more solid their strategies are, the longer and more upscale their expenses become.

Mobile-mature organizations use strategic and methodical approaches to developing services

Much has been said about having a mobile-first approach when building applications and services. Forrester Research has determined that e-businesses that have had mobile strategies in excess of two years are more deliberate and mindful in their actions and production plans. They they choose to be more strategic and methodical in their approach, thereby developing more streamlined and easy-to-use services. Giving much importance to systematic approach, mature mobile companies exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Established mobile companies are able to determine approaches that are unnecessary, untimely, and inessential in the development of their mobile services and give more value to realistic strategies that offer profit potency and customer appeal.
  2. Mature e-businesses are able to separate tablet strategy from smartphone strategy. Considering mobile phone and tablet features, owner usage, physical attributes, and resources, mobile-oriented companies that have had an established strategy for more than two years are capable of determining what modern consumer wants for their devices.
  3. Mature e-businesses also develop services in-house. Mobile companies that have had a mobile strategy for more than two years put emphasis on building their mobile services internally with their own team, including app development, mobile optimization, and corporate integration.
  4. Mature e-businesses focus more on revenues, while those at the early stages focus on interactions.

Better collaboration

Mobile-mature organizations give much importance to having close business relationships within their tech team. They also exhibit good collaboration with other teams across functional areas, fields, and geographies. These companies see broad and extensive mobile usage in different aspects of the industry such as marketing, sales and customer support, compared to the novices.

Differences in the performance of mature companies to those who are just starting out are also visible in their geographic scope: experienced organizations’ mobile strategies are better-coordinated across functional areas, while those who have had a mobile strategy for less than a year is centralized only within a region.

Broader spectrum of mobile services

E-businesses with established mobile strategies offer a wider array of services, catering to various platforms. For instance, these include iOS apps (for iPhone and iPad), Android apps and mobile web-optimized sites. Here are some plans that surveyed companies have shared:

Firms plan to establish a mobile web presence by the end of 2013. 98 percent of e-businesses surveyed plan to expand to mobile-optimized websites, 74 percent of which plan to execute this with HTML5. 88 percent of companies who were surveyed with a mobile strategy for more than a year plan to have iOS application, 82 percent will have a native Android application and 60 percent plan to have hybrid Android application before 2014.

Results from the surveys show that companies tend to put emphasis on iOS first than Android, seeing that it provides little fragmentation compared to iOS.

Firms plan to extend their efforts to tablets. Mobile-mature companies are able to expand to tablets more easily than their early-stage counterparts. Among mobile users, 60 percent opt to build an iPad app first over Android. Only 30 percent of mobile strategists have Android tablet apps, and are concerned about the fragmented nature of the platform. However, this may change if Apple releases new screen sizes or resolutions. (Note that the survey is focused only on the 10-inch tablet experience.) Forrester Research’s report shows that 82% of mobile-mature firms include tablets in their mobile strategies.

Mobile-mature firms plan to collaborate with companies that play bigger roles in serving mobile consumers and online shoppers, such as Amazon, eBay, PayPal, banks, payment processors and the like.

Vendor relationships are not strong enough

Although e-businesses in different levels of maturity use mobile vendors in their marketing strategies, experienced mobile companies are much less likely to work with vendors than their inexperienced counterparts. Surveys show that 41% of mature e-businesses reported that they develop strategic relationships with mobile vendors, but 49% also stated that they work with vendors only by contract or on a per- project basis.

Mobile companies’ decisions on how their services and platforms will progress are based on the responses and demands of consumers. This consumer feedback is mostly influenced by the media, social networking sites, and their social activities. Thus, e-businesses will benefit from spending more time online engaging with target audiences, adding more useful applications, and establishing a solid online presence.

Meanwhile, companies that are in the early- and intermediate stages of mobile commerce can benefit from learning from the experiences of the more mobile-mature firms in their respective industries. The objective of Forrester Research report is to provide a useful guide on how companies can maximize their mobile-oriented efforts to better address the needs of both their own organization and their clients.

Apple to announce plan with massive stash of cash

AppleAmerican tech firm Apple is reportedly set to make an announcement regarding its next business move after profiting remarkably from the sales of their products last year, a corporate insider reported on Monday.

Apple, who achieved record-breaking gains due to the popularity of iPhone and iPad, is ready to unveil its next plan to reallocate its immense stash of cash.

According to a New York base investment company, the leading smartphone maker will likely make an announcement by the end of March. If the speculation is true, Apple would be making such move for the second time in two years.

Shareholders have been pushing Apple to use the cash-pile with larger reinvestments or a dividend program, which Apple announced last year along with a $10 billion stock buyback.

Still, investors believe the company could have initiated bolder steps to use 2/3 of its cash-pile stored outside the country into money-generating ventures. However, the possibility of paying enormous tax prompted Apple to stay privy with that issue.

David Einhorn, the owner of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, recently filed a law suit against Apple for its failure to share more of its cash with investors.

“Apple is a phenomenal company … but Apple has a problem,” Einhorn said. “It has sort of a mentality of a depression. In other words, people who have gone through traumas — and Apple’s gone through a couple traumas in its history — they sometimes feel they can never have enough cash.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook called Einhorn’s lawsuit a ‘silly slideshow,’ insisting the company is considering all possible options to keep its investors happy and its profits growing.

Einhorn successful prevented a vote on the issue of preferred shares at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Nevertheless, executives promised to look over the issue once the company made a decision.

Apple Spends 2 Percent in Overseas Tax Spending

The top executives at Apple has once again showcased their knack at avoiding the punitive hands of the tax collector after the Silicon Valley-based tech company reported a 2 percent tax spending for the chunk of money generated by the sales of their products overseas in the last fiscal year.

According to its annual report filed with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple only shelled out $713 million in taxes on $26.87 billion in foreign profits.

On the other hand, the iPhone maker spent a whopping $12.26 billion in federal taxes and $1.06 billion in state taxes for the profits they earned in the United States.

Apple’s growing business empire was attributed to its engaging line of innovative products and tax strategies overseas.

Like many multi-national conglomerates, Apple is racking up the large portion of their profit money from the sales of their products abroad, where tax policies are lax and favorable for their business.

However, these profits tend to stay overseas as companies tried to avoid an onerous 35 percent tax rate if they decided to ‘repatriate’ their money obtained in foreign lands back to the United States.  Several companies such as Cisco Systems have previously asked for tax relief for the repatriation of their overseas profits.

Despite spending an incredibly cheap amount of money for their overseas taxes, Apple has not utilized any loopholes just to prevent paying lucrative taxes.

Instead, the company’s top executives used their smarts to capitalize on the slack tax regulations abroad, giving them the leverage to spend less out of their enormous profits.

“These technology giants are playing by the rules, but the problem is the rules are broken. Who sets the rules? The government. And yet the government all but takes it out on the individual taxpayer by making them drag the country out of economic downturn kicking and screaming,” said ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker.

With the competition in the U.S tech market increasingly becomes tighter than ever, Apple will not stop at tapping all possible options to capitalize on the profit opportunities at tax-friendly countries such as China and India.

Via: CNET

Daewoo Electronics to recommence business in Austria

Four years after its extraction, the South Korean home electronics company, Daewoo Electronics Corporation is now set to recommence business in the Central European land of Austria. This move is in line with the firm’s decisive aim to hit the European market, from this year onwards.

Daewoo Electronics on Wednesday confirmed the company’s resolution to re-enter one of the world’s richest markets, four years since its retreat. It also disclosed the company’s impending trades with Austria’s major buyers.

To mark its optimistic re-entrance, new deals are recently signed by Daewoo Electronics for its German unit. Indicated on the company’s current German unit deals are certain terms for its distribution of overall household appliances to Austrian home appliance importer GGV.

In addition, the company has also signed up an agreement to supply Daewoo washing machines to washing machine manufacturer Eudora and Daewoo kitchen appliances to furniture distributor Moemax.

Meanwhile, the company is also in talks about delivering Daewoo products to a discount retailer, Hofer. Besides having more than 400 stores across the land, Hofer also books 61 percent of the Austrian market shares. Apparently, Daewoo sees a great prospective on Hofer, thus, considers taking up a bond with such business entity.

Daewoo Electronics began its exports to Austria with its German unit in 1992. That was when it was still under Daewoo Group, a major conglomerate in South Korea next to Hyundai Group. Originally, Daewoo conglomerate has around 20 divisions before the Asian Financial Crisis emerged in 1998. Unfortunately, the company went through a bankruptcy in 1999. While some of its subsidiaries have failed to endure the crisis, a few of them managed to survive today as independent companies. Among them is Daewoo Electronics.

In line with the company’s effort to reorganize overseas business operations, Daewoo has decided to halt exports to Austria in 2008.

Regaining the momentum after a few years of reform, Daewoo Electronics is once again up for a new venture along with the present move to resume its Austrian sales and acquire sales boost in the European market. The company is therefore targeting four major markets in Northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

Other existing Daewoo Electronics subsidiaries in Europe are situated in Rumania, France, Poland, Spain, Germany and the UK.

Source Link

Dell’s Latitude 10 Tablet Targets Enterprise Users

Earlier this year, Dell announced that its focus for its new devices is the business users. Dell, which had been known as a maker of consumer PCs, seems to be delivering on that promise with its new devices such as the Latitude 10 tablet, a tablet that is said to be designed with the enterprise user in mind.

The Latitude 10 tablet was the subject of a leaked image back in May, which reportedly lists the slate’s specifications which, several months later, were found to be correct.

The Latitude 10 tablet runs on the Intel Clover Trail System-on-a-Chip and has Windows 8 as its operating system. It comes with 128GB of internal storage capacity as well as 2GB of RAM. On the tablet’s rear, users will find its main camera, which has an 8-megapixel sensor, whereas on its front is a 720p webcam. Several connectivity options are possible including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, as well as mobile broadband. At this point, it is still unknown whether the tablet will support LTE connectivity. Connecting peripherals like a printer, a mouse, or other plug-and-play devices, is made easy with the presence of a full-sized USB port. Likewise, the tablet sports a mini-USB port for charging. Those who find a Wacom stylus handy in their line of work will find that the tablet supports this accessory. It is also worth noting that the device comes with a user-replaceable battery that is reportedly easy to detach from the tablet.

To make the device more suited to withstand business travels, Dell encased the device in a magnesium alloy casing as well as protected its display with Corning Gorilla Glass. Furthermore, to address business security concerns, the device supports TPM management and has data protection and encryption features from Dell. Users can also choose to have a smartcard and a fingerprint reader on the tablet for added security.

Dell’s other new devices include the Dell Latitude 6430u Ultrabook and the Dell OptiPlex 9010 All-In-One desktop.

via theverge

Fujitsu Launches New Tablet For Business Users

Fujitsu just released their 10.1 inch Android tablet, and it seems like they’re trying to target business users. This tablet is beautiful with the fact that it’s powered by a NVIDIA Tegra 3 1.4GHz quad core processor. At the same time, the Fujitsu Stylistic M532/EA4 is also military-grade ruggedized for protection against high and/or extreme temperatures, and also has a very, very impressive 13.4 hours of battery life.

The tablet also boasts of a 2 mega pixel on the front for video calling and an 8 mega pixel camera on the back. The tablet will also have a few different built-in types of connectivity such as Wi-Fi, GPS, and 3G. The tablet also has a number of different inputs such as a micro USB input, audio line in and out, a custom dock connector, and the usual memory card slot. It has a wonderful 1280 x 800 display for what it is intended for and also is running off Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. While it’s a new tablet and Jelly Bean is missing, this may be something that would turn people away. Still, I think that since this tablet was intended for business purposes many will not care at the fact that it does not have Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. While many want to have the latest tech, you really don’t need Jelly Bean for all of your business purposes.

Right now, the tablet is only available in Japan. Shipments outside of Japan are expected to begin starting in early October. While Fujitsu is still trying to make a name for themselves in the world of Android, we probably will not be seeing them really take off as it’s probably going to take quite some time before their devices actually become something recognizable and money worthy in North America. The last really cool thing Fujitsu was actually able to do, was a really cool LTE waterproof phone at the Mobile World Congress. That makes me really wonder as to what we’ll be seeing at this upcoming Mobile World Congress. I can’t really throw guesses out there, but I’m expecting a huge influx of waterproof handsets and new NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities.

I’m not really sure why we would need waterproof gadgets, aside from keeping them safe during accidents. I mean, can you really talk on the phone underwater without running out of breath rapidly? It is helpful if your phone gets dropped in something by accident (which is pretty unlikely most of the time), but I would really like to see some handsets that have more durability when you drop them. Just a personal preference there.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot of Fujitsu’s stuff in the United States fairly soon, as they do have some really cool products that are worth giving a look at.

Any thoughts on this device? Do you think that you would be interested in getting something like this?

Let us know in the comments below!

source: android central

Update: Fujitsu representative wanted us to clarify some inaccuracies in this article.  Please see below.

Allow us to clarify that the press release of Sept. 18 was specifically for the product announcement in Japan, with domestic shipments of the M532/EA4 starting in early October. The M532/EA4 has been available in Europe since June and in the US since August. By the way, waterproof gadgets are popular in Japan as people use them while relaxing in the bathtub, which many here prefer over taking a shower.

App Spotlight: Cardcloud

In this day and age it is important to carry a set of business cards. One truly never knows when or where they will need them. With that in mind, there is an app called Cloudcard that offers a service which will allow someone to carry that business card inside their phone.

Screenshot by Josh Gough

More after the break
(more…)

App Spotlight: Expensify

Business trips are a necessary evil that cost the traveling business person more than just money. Time spent away from loved ones can’t be replaced, and neither can the time that the travelers spends collecting receipts for reimbursement. The former issue is a hard problem to solve, but the expense report stress can be eased with Exspensify.

Screenshot by Josh Gough

This is an app that allows the user to streamline their expense report by putting it all online, and removing the need for paper receipts. The app will keep track of petty cash expenses, receipts, the mileage driven, and will even take note of any business cards. This is all done through Expensify’s own website, to which all records of expenses will be sent so the user can relax.

Screenshot by Josh Gough

Upon returning home all the information will be waiting to be dealt with, allowing the user to build an expense report as they see fit.The report can be processed in PDF format, which can then be emailed to the correct party. After a lengthy business trip people should be spending time with those they have missed, not with a pile of thermal paper. Give the app a try; it may be worth the time.

T-Mobile Revamps Business Plans

As the AT&T/T-Mobile merger inches closer and closer it seems that T-Mobile is taking a minute to revamp their business vertical. As we already know T-Mobile has some of the strongest hardware in wireless today. To get businesses interested in T-Mobile service they’ve revamped their plans and options for business with 1-99 lines.

T-Mobile introduced the Small Business 1,000 minute value plan.  Businesses can get 1,000 minutes and unlimited text messaging with no data for $24.99 per month.

For $10 more businesses can upgrade to unlimited minutes, unlimited text.  For $39.99 business customers can take advantage of the 1,000 minute plan which has 1,000 minutes, unlimited text and 5gb of data for $39.99.

They don’t say when it will end but T-Mobile has said these plans will run for a limited time, so get them while they’re available and while T-Mobile is still available.

source: phonescoop via mobileburn